Alētheia, 1

What is truth? Most define “truth” as “that which corresponds to reality.” I agree. Whatever concurs with reality, that thing, whatever it is, is the truth. The proposition, “These words are written in the English language,” is true insofar as it corresponds to reality. Considering these words are, in fact, “written in English,” then that proposition is to be taken as true. But consider the following: “Diese Worte sind in englischer Sprache geschrieben.” Is that proposition true? No, it is not. The reason, of course, is because it runs contrary to reality, for it is written in German, not English.

According to Christian tradition, “truth” (alētheia) is much more than a proposition, it is a person. “I am the way, the alētheia, and the life,” says Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 14:6). Of course, it is easily understandable, I think, why Christians would believe that Jesus is the embodiment of alētheia. He is for us, after all, the ultimate reality. He is the logos, the most fundamental reality there is (Jn 1:1-3). Of course, as logos (“Word”), Jesus is the “through-which” all things were created (Col 1:16). The Genesis account of creation (Gen 1) remains the backdrop for John’s Christology, to be sure; there is to be no doubt about the Jewish overtones in John’s use of logos, I think. But I believe John’s use of logos would appeal not just to a Jewish audience, but to a Greek audience as well. The logos, after all, was believed to be the foundation of all cosmic order (something a few Greeks mused about from time to time). And yet John says that Jesus of Nazareth is logos. Jesus, therefore, is to be seen as the central part of fundamental reality and order, for everything that is and has being finds its basis upon the divine logos. In this way, Jesus is alētheia, since truth is that which corresponds to reality, and Jesus as logos is the basis for ultimate reality. Truly, one can say that the Christos, as the logos, sustains the cosmos.

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